Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law
designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any
program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504
guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the
right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public
education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the
disability. Specifically, 34 C.F.R.§104 states: "No otherwise qualified
individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason
of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the
benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity
receiving Federal financial assistance."
Section 504 requires the provision of appropriate educational services;
services that are designed to meet the individual needs of qualified
students to the same extent that the needs of students without a disability
are met. Essentially Section 504 was designed to "level the playing field,"
to ensure full participation by individuals with disabilities.
To qualify under Section 504 a student must: Be determined to have a
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major
life activities including learning and behavior. Have a record of having
such an impairment OR Be regarded as having such impairment.
How can Section 504 help my child?
Section 504 ensures that a qualified child with a disability has equal
access to education. The child may receive appropriate accommodations and
modifications tailored to the child's individual needs.
What is an "appropriate" accommodation under Section 504?
An appropriate accommodation for a student with a disability under Section
504 could entail:
education in regular classrooms,
education in regular classrooms with supplementary services, modifications
special education and related services OR
any combination of the above.
How do I get my child covered under Section 504?
In order to receive services under Section 504, a child must first be
determined to have a disability that substantially limits one or more major
life functions, including education, learning, and behavior. Only the school
can determine if your child qualifies for accommodations. Parents seeking to
have their child receive services under Section 504 should take the
Submit a written request to the school asking for an evaluation to determine
if there is a significant impact on your child's learning or behavior.
Request a copy of your School District's Policies and Procedures on Section
504. This document may be referred to by various names, including Procedural
Safeguards, Parental Rights or something similar. This document will inform
you of your and the school's rights and responsibilities in helping your
child receive the accommodations she or he needs.
How do I file a complaint about my school or school district?
Local school districts are responsible for implementing the provisions of
Section 504. However, ultimate responsibility for enforcing these provisions
rests with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of
Education. If you believe that a school or school district has violated this
law and efforts at the local level to resolve your complaint have not been
successful, you may file a formal complaint with OCR by contacting the
nearest state/regional office. You may also call the OCR Hotline at
1-800-421-3481. A complaint may also be filed using the OCR Online Complaint
www.wrightslaw.com for detailed information on Section 504 Plans.